Leave No Trace this summer

BITCI News - Apr 27, 2015

leave no traceIt’s coming to that time of year where many people start enjoying the outdoors again. Corporate team days and charity fundraisers based in the outdoors have become increasingly popular. However as increasing numbers of people seek the beauty and exhilaration of outdoor recreation in Ireland, our collective mark on the environment and its natural process increases. The impacts we leave include litter, water pollution and trampled vegetation. We can also cause disturbance to farm animals and wildlife, and inconvenience for other people.

Many businesses and organisations now have comprehensive environmental policies in place that drive environmental excellence in their own operations but sometimes these values don’t extend to ‘extra-curricular’ activities such as those listed above. We know from our 2014 environment report ‘Making consistent impact: Environmental Trends, Best Practice’ that organisations struggle to incorporate biodiversity and nature conservation into their environmental programmes or to see its relevance. However, biodiversity loss along with climate change is one of the biggest environmental challenges the world is facing. Responsible companies and organisations have a role to play in its protection and have a unique opportunity to influence, encourage and spread a ‘Leave No Trace’ message as one way of taking action. This summer we ask that if you are planning, getting involved or sponsoring outdoor activities that you consider trying to lessen the impact that you make on the environment.

skelli-islands-ireland_66213_600x450Leave No Trace Ireland promotes and inspires responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. At the heart of Leave No Trace are 7 principles for reducing the damage caused by outdoor activities:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Be Considerate of Others
  3. Respect Farm Animals and Wildlife
  4. Travel and Camp on Durable Ground
  5. Leave What You Find
  6. Dispose of Waste Properly
  7. Minimise the Effects of Fire

The Leave No Trace message has been adopted by many organisations from Government Departments, State Agencies, National Governing Bodies of Sport, education and training organisations and range of tourism businesses. It is this broad adoption and promotion that gives the message its strength, together with the fact that the principles are all positive in nature and based on sound science.

The Leave No Trace programme encourages people of all ages to take responsibility for their impact on the environment and other people, and introduces techniques that will help reduce those impacts.

Here’s some of the ways that companies and organisations can get involved:

Team challenges: If your organisation is participating in a team challenge / team-building day that is outdoors-based ensure that a ‘Leave No Trace’ policy is adopted and that staff are made aware of the principles

Charity fundraising events: races, cycles and mountain challenges are popular ways for colleagues to raise money for staff charities. Ensure a ‘no trace’ ethos among participating staff and if possible use your influence to encourage organisers to adopt a “No Trace Race”. Such an initiative was undertaken by the committee of The Kerry Way Ultra event in 2014 to ensure the event has minimal adverse impact on the surroundings and the people of the ‘Kerry Way’ region.

Sponsorships of events: corporate sponsorship of major outdoor events such as festivals is a valuable opportunity to ensure that your organisation’s environmental values are respected wherever your brand is used. Festivals and other such events have the potential to have a heavy impact on the landscape and community in which they are located. Using your influence as a sponsor can help to reduce this impact on the environment as well as the reputational risk of a badly managed event being linked to your organisation. The ‘Leave No Trace Campsite’ at Electric Picnic 2013 is a good example of how change can be affected at such an event.

Leave No Trace Logo no backgroundFor more information on Leave No Trace Ireland, please contact Maura Lyons, Leave No Trace Programme Manager, info@leavenotraceireland.org, 01 9059009.

Business in the Community Ireland will continue to concentrate on raising awareness of biodiversity and business issues in the coming year through articles, events and case studies.

For more information on environmental issues in Business in the Community Ireland, please contact Lorraine Fitzgerald, lfitzgerald@bitc.ie, 01 8743859.

Lorraine is also a board member of Leave No Trace Ireland.